In a Youtube video that has now been removed, members of the right-wing “patriot movement” warned Obama (“and co”) to “leave now and give us our country back.” If not, “‘We, The People’ will systematically dismantle you, destroy you and reclaim what is rightfully ours.”
“Dead line [sic] for your national response: October 15, 2009.”
And make no mistake about what it is they’re threatening: in a final note to “patriots,” the video says to “Be prepared for when the fateful day of the declaration of war [emphasis added] is nationally announced.”
So, ultimatum and threat of war + people bringing guns to Obama’s speech + the kind of rhetoric directed toward John F. Kennedy before his assassination (except now we can also vote on whether the president should live via Facebook poll) = are you worried yet?
FDR told us, “We have nothing to fear except fear itself.” And that’s exactly what I’m afraid of–people’s fear. The fear of “the other.” People’s fear for their “way of life.” The 9/12 protests: Fear of government. Images that depict Obama as Hitler: Fear.
When people’s fears have been brought to a pitch–conspiracies, demonizing, scapegoating–the danger of violence arises. That’s why Latino organizations took a stand against Lou Dobbs’ fear-mongering rhetoric: to protect themselves. That’s what makes the growth of militia and white supremacist groups across the country so alarming.
Perhaps even more important (and difficult) than health care reform–although that’s a big one–progressives need to figure out how to undermine the power of fear in shaping our current national discourse. It all ties together anyway: With “kill your grandma” rhetoric Democrats are kept from pursing their policy goals.
Under the Bush years, we were conditioned to be afraid with the color alert system (it’s orange today! ORANGE!) and constant Dick Cheney rhetoric about our national security (and then some distractions about how it’s really gay marriage that will destroy America). It’s easier to cause an atmosphere of fear than to dispel it: hence the desperate Republican Party’s continued attraction to these cheap tricks. But Democrats can’t stoop to those same tactics–the 9/11 truth movement show that liberals are capable of whipping up fear and conspiracy theories too.
National security goal #1 should be to work toward civil discourse, against fear–bringing a new meaning to the “war on terror.”